Page 444 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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Bishop atanasije (jevtić)
vica and Leposavić, has also remained the most peaceful region in Kosovo and Metohija. in Sredska Župa out of a previous population of 300 very few Serbs remain under very difficult humanitarian conditions. at the beginning of 2003 a small number of Serbs returned there but under almost impossible living conditions.
in the monastery of Gračanica, where Bishop of Raška- Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija has relocated with his asso- ciates, active work began immediately with the goal of bet- ter organizing the people, especially in the parish centers. an information center was established to collect all data regarding the persecution of the Serbian people and visits were organized every day to various parts of the Province under KFOR escort. Bishop artemije also immediately es- tablished contact with the officials of the UN mission and KFOR and very frequently sent verbal and written appeals for international forces to stop the albanian terror through- out the Province against the Serbs and other non-albanian population, and especially to protect our Holy Shrines and cultural monuments.
Consequently, on july 2, 1999 a meeting of Serbian rep- resentatives headed by Bishop artemije and political rep- resentatives of the albanians was organized in Priština. On that occasion a joint Communiqué was issued appealing for peace and tolerance. Unfortunately, only two hours af- ter the end of the meeting, the albanian leaders organized a huge celebration in Priština involving the destruction of Serbian metal monuments to Vuk Karadžić and Njegoš, which were then dragged through the streets with tractors. after this the terror against the remaining Serbs in Priština continued. Time will show that the albanian leaders con- tinued to leading a two-fold hypocritical policy, continuing to play the role of democrats in front of international rep- resentatives while, on the other hand, not only failing to tolerate but actively instigating their compatriots to terror against Serbs, Roma, Goranci and other ethnic communi- ties in Kosovo and Metohija. even though representatives of the international community attempted to portray these crimes as spontaneous revenge by the albanians, it be- came increasingly apparent that they were in fact orga- nized acts of violence perpetrated by members of the KLa, who remain active as a group of criminal gangs under the influence of powerful families and fishes. The situation has not improved at all with the so-called demilitarization of the KLa and its transformation into the so-called Kosovo Protection Corps. This is especially obvious in the process of the destruction of Serbian Orthodox churches, the ma- jority of which have been very professionally dynamited and blown up. The international mission not only failed to effectively prevent these acts of violence but in most cases did not even conduct investigations, thus creating the grow- ing impression that the albanians have been left to vent their anger and fury against the Serbs with acts of violence, and reduce their number to quantité negligeable. an im- portant reason for this lack of activity on the part of KFOR
and UNMiK was not only their lack of preparation for such a situation in the field but first and foremost their firm reso- lution to avoid an armed confrontation with the albanians themselves at any cost. KFOR never established full con- trol over the borders with albania and (FRY) Macedonia, which enabled the flourishing of smuggling, prostitution, drugs and weapons trading.
in the entire newly created situation, the Serbian peo- ple seemed completely leaderless because state officials of the Milošević regime were among the first to abandon their compatriots. The only institution that was actually func- tioning, albeit under difficult conditions, was the Church, which brought the people together through its parishes and monasteries and encouraged them to prevail under these difficult conditions. Not until autumn of 1999 was there some formal engagement by the so-called state Com- mittee for Kosovo and Metohija in Belgrade, which until Milošević’s departure from power played a very negative role in the Province in general, deceiving the people with false promises and renewing the influence of old political structures. Finally the role of the Committee was reduced primarily to the sale of certificates of citizenship and Yugo- slav passports to the Kosovo albanians. Only after the change in government in Serbia (October 5, 2001) was the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija established under Nebojša Čović, who would launch an entire series of activities with the goal of some degree of normalization of life in the Serbian enclaves in Kosovo and Metohija.
During the course of the summer of 1999 repression against the remaining Serbian population intensified, es- pecially in the region of Kosovsko Pomoravlje. Murders, kidnappings, break-ins and threats became everyday oc- currences in Gnjilane and Vitina where the remaining Serbs continued to live together with the albanians. after an en- tire series of attacks a significant number of Serbs left Vi- tina on july 19, 1999. That day albanian extremists threw a bomb at a group of Serbs near the Orthodox church in Vitina wounding two people. On the same day (july 19) in another region in Metohija, Hieromonk Stefan Purić, the priest at the estate of the Peć Patriarchate in Budisavci, was abducted with one other Serb by extremist albanian Ro- man Catholics. Nothing reliable is known about their fate to this day even though Monk David Perović, who was vis- iting the Peć Patriarchate during this period, learned from some albanians that after his abduction Hieromonk Ste- fan was allegedly taken to the istok area or to istok itself where, after being tortured and mistreated by the alba- nians, he was slaughtered and thrown into a well in istok along with some other murdered Serbs. Despite all at- tempts to trace Hieromonk Stefan and the other Serbs kid- napped by albanian extremists in this region, neither the Diocese of Raška and Prizren nor the Patriarchate to this day has managed to learn anything of his fate.
News about kidnapped Serbs and Roma arrived every day and consequently the Diocese in Gračanica began from

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